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Why trust is key in high-performing teams

We talk a lot about trust at Form. It’s something that's part of our DNA and we cultivate it through communication and a culture of openness.


From conversations with leaders, we know how important it is for them to have trusted advisors, reliable sounding boards, and people to turn to in a crisis. Jon recently shared his thoughts on how to get the right people around you and the difference they can make to you as a leader.

As a Project Manager overseeing lots of moving parts, knowing I can 100% rely on the people looking after all those parts makes my job much easier – and more enjoyable.

I was interested to read this piece in the Harvard Business Review that drills down into some of the ways high-performing teams build trust – and lots of it definitely resonates.

Trust between teammates

Based on a survey of 1000 US based office workers, it highlights these trust-related behaviours found in high-performing teams:

Don’t leave collaboration to chance

“High-performing teams…are more than three times more likely to begin by first discussing how they will work together, paving the way for fewer misunderstandings and smoother collaboration down the road.”

Rather than just assigning roles and hoping people will come together at the right times, having a kick off to talk over preferences, strengths, responsibilities and process brings people together and cuts out misunderstandings. We use shared to-do lists and airtable to help keep our projects on track. 

Keep colleagues in the loop

“Greater transparency doesn’t just foster trust — it’s also been shown to fuel creativity, performance, and profitability.”

Kicking off a project collectively is great but sharing information throughout is vital. Nurturing this openness means there’s no place for ‘knowledge hoarding’ and underlying power struggles. Have regular scheduled check-ins where everyone can share insight, progress, and challenges.

Share Credit

“Instead of soaking up praise alone, members of high-performing teams are more likely to share recognition for their accomplishments with teammates by acknowledging or thanking those who played a role in their success.”

Letting people know you see the importance of the part they played makes them feel appreciated and encourages reciprocity. Studies also show ‘when we share credit for our accomplishments, we appear more likable without seeming any less capable’.

Address tension

“Members of high-performing teams don’t just interpret conflict more adaptively — they’re also more prone to taking the initiative in resolving it.”

Differences of opinion are inevitable, but rather than avoiding conflict and letting tensions simmer, embracing a growth mindset with team relationships builds trust. If someone is upset, ask them about it, if a conversation is strained, remember ‘tension is temporary’ and try to talk it through.


Cultivating trust

Trust is the cornerstone of a well-functioning team and successful projects. It can seem intangible, almost instinctive, but by focusing on these behaviours we can continue to build a culture of trust and reap the rewards of the productivity and effectiveness that come with it.